Walter Keeler makes useful pots – teapots, jugs, serving dishes, storage jars and mugs. He questions the way we might use them. How our hands and eyes will explore their handles, rims and lids. How they feel when we lift them up, to pour or drink from them? He hopes that through using them, perhaps even subconsciously, we will share his love of making pots and how they can enrich our daily lives.
Keeler discovered his interest in working with clay at art school at the age of sixteen, and although he did not set out to be a potter, the possibility of making pots dawned slowly alongside investigation into other media. Adopting the model established by Bernard Leach, Keeler made both individual pots and repetition tableware, over the years changing and adapting to new kilns, different processes and new ideas. He now produces work in series or groups, and while each pot is individual, it is part of an extensive family of pieces.
One of the remarkable aspects of Keeler’s work with clay has been his willingness to rethink and change direction, moving from oxidised stoneware and raku to reduction-fired wares, salt-glazed pots and more recently to earthenware. Consistent throughout all the moves has been a concern with process and the formalist qualities of line, form and surface as well as the role of pots within society.
Today, Keeler divides his time between making salt-glaze, making earthenware … New forms include a series of tripod bowls fitted either with tall, sturdy, mammiform legs that look as if they might have originated in science fiction or bowls supported by what look like turned chair legs. ‘The idea of “the wrong legs”, or “the legs you happen to be left with” result in pots with unmatched legs. Their animated nature reminds me of the strange drunken formality of the hokey-kokey.’
This project develops out of a working partnership with the City Gallery Leicester to celebrate the work of Wales' leading ceramicist. Walter Keeler is regarded by many as the pre-eminent maker of domestic ware working in the UK today. He has been a major influence, yet has to date never been profiled in a published book – now offered by this exhibition.
Walter Keeler is a potter ever on the move. His lively, enquiring imagination is constantly inspired by new forms and possibilities, and his pots will go on combining the austere with the baroque, the playful with the practical.
Price: Hardback £25 & softback £19 contact The Gallery Ruthin Craft Centre for details
Publication: Denbighshire County Council - The Gallery Ruthin Craft Centre, Park Road, Ruthin, Denbighshire LL15 1BB
Binding: Paperback and Hardback 105 pages (March 2004)
Please mention www.studiopottery.co.uk when contacting the author and publisher.